Incredible Cocktails And Japanese Food at Aveika
I’m going to start with the verdict on our meal at Aveika last week, and say it was absolutely amazing. We had such a good night and I’ve been thinking about it ever since wondering when we can go back. I’ve ate at Aveika three times now, at different stages in it’s lifetime in prime spot right by the quayside and the Tyne bridge. I first ate there opening night, and it was nice, but as with anywhere on day one it didn’t quite have the vibe right. We ventured back last summer with another couple, and had a great night, but mainly alcohol focused. This time, it was all about the food and cocktails, and Aveika has got it spot on.
I’ve seen various promotions, new concepts and new menus emerge across social media, so when I was invited to try the latest menus both for food and cocktails I was really excited to go along. On paper Aveika restaurant is 100% my type of place – Japanese food, cocktails, great spot for a good night whoever you’re with. Our table was booked at 8pm, and we made our way down to the quayside. I never get tired of that view. When we arrived it was still light, and you know that feeling you get in Spring when everything is just so much more exciting because it’s vaguely warm and summer is just round the corner and there’s so much fun to be had in the form of cocktails in fancy glasses? That’s the feeling I got arriving to Aveika.
We were shown to our table and given both the a la carte menu, and the express menu. The waitress explained both menus, and said if we have any questions to give her a shout, before going off to get us some table water. Perusing the menu it’s so hard to decide! They openly state their menu is best for ordering a few smaller dishes to share, either as different courses or to come altogether. It’s very flexible, and there are bigger dishes for main too if you prefer. I really love the tapas style, especially when sushi is available, and a lot of it to choose from too!
Before I got carried away with the food choices though, I had a look through the cocktail menu – priorities. There’s nothing worse than making a rushed cocktail decision so I wanted to make sure I had plenty time. The cocktail menu has completely changed from what I remember previously. There are loads, in categories and their enticing names had me really struggling which one to go for. It was the Lychee Martini that caught my eye, mainly because I was feeling very summery and lychee reminds me of a particularly fun girls holiday. Kieran had a draught beer.
I know it’s just table water, but I really have to give it a mention, because it came with a lovely fruity touch to it. There were sliced strawberry, cucumber and mint to give it that extra flavour and refreshing taste.
Back to the food menu. We were definitely going with the smaller dishes to share, and decided to split it into two courses – fish to start and meat for main. We ordered edamame (always!), two lots of sushi from the Aveika Uramaki section – Kakugiri which is spicy tuna and Tempura Tara which is cod with lemon and chilli dressing, as well as prawn katsu. I love sushi, especially when it’s made fresh. You really notice the difference and Aveika’s take on it was exactly that. They’re big chunky pieces, but really easy to eat, even fumbling about trying my hardest with chopsticks like I do. The flavours are strong but not overbearing and they’re very filling for three pieces each.
The edamame was exactly how I like it, covered in sea salt – amazing! I can’t get enough of the stuff and it’s a great starter to go with the sushi.
We finished our starters so it was definitely time for another cocktail before the main dishes came out. I even persuaded Kieran to have a look at the cocktail menu in case anything took his fancy. I went for Memoirs of a Geisha this time, not going to lie 50% because of the name! Kieran ordered a Red Berry Crush which I was actually quite surprised about, he usually goes for whisky based cocktails but I think the fruit infused water had a fruity effect on him.
Mine was thick and delicious, and you could really taste the alcohol in it too. That’s one thing I always look for, it’s all well and good having fancy names and creative concoctions, but the actual drink itself won’t cut it if it’s watered down and you can’t taste all the ingredients that you ordered it for in the first place. You really could with these though I was impressed.
Our main dishes started to arrive, they stagger them depending on when they’re ready so they’re never sat out waiting. We went for sharing meat skewers for this course, the wagu beef, the garlic chicken in salt and pepper, giant king prawns with sesame and soy, and sticky soy and mirin salmon. They’re all on the menu as grilled, and all come on skewers for ease. Each one was perfect, the meat of the chicken and salmon had that grilled flavour on the outside, but tender and juicy in the middle, and the salmon flaked off in your mouth as you ate it was so good.
The wagu beef though? Another level completely. BEYOND delicious and if you’ve had it yourself before you’re totally going to know what I mean. We’ve had them every time we’ve been and they were the one thing I was praying were still on the menu for our visit last week. I obviously was putting some pics on my Instagram story of our night, and three people messaged me while I was there to say ‘try the wagu beef!’ That just shows how memorable it actually is, it’s cooked to perfection. It’s not the cheapest on the menu, but worth every single penny the meat is unbelievable quality and we had to order another round of it.
As Kieran was getting more of the beef, I went for something a bit lighter and ordered the sashimi tuna. I wasn’t ready to leave the sushi to just the first course. Both extra dishes arrived very quickly and we tucked in again. Raw tuna is obviously a very specific taste, and if you like it then you will really like Aveika’s version served on ice. You can’t beat sashimi sushi when it’s that cold and it really finished off the meal for me. Kieran was in his element with the second portion of wagu beef too.
We ordered a final round of drinks to finish off our meal, and I went with the Japanese Garden because let’s face it, it sounds like heaven in a glass. It was as well – made with gin, and the sprinkled garnish on the top literally smelled of fresh flowers every time I took a sip. The staff were happy for us to treat our cocktails as desert, and we weren’t rushed off the table in any way. Neither of us could fit in a proper desert but it was nice to sit and enjoy the atmosphere with our drinks.
The staff are excellent, and happy to talk you through any questions you might have about the menu, and they’re very flexible when it comes to ordering more food. I think sometimes in Japanese places if you aren’t familiar with the different types of food or sushi the menus and all the names can be quite intimidating if you don’t always know where to start. The staff are very approachable if you aren’t sure on anything, and they keep on top of all the empty plates that quickly stack up. That said, they aren’t overbearing or intrusive, but appear right when you need them. Hats of to the chefs and bartender as well!
Looking around, Aveika felt like a completely different restaurant to what it was originally, back at first opening. Back then I felt that the bar and restaurant overlapped too much, whereas now they’re two separate areas of the venue and each one does give you a very different experience. Back then I would never have taken say my dad along, but now it is somewhere I would consider taking him for food.
If you haven’t been for a while I really would urge you to go again, especially through the week, don’t just assume Aveika is a weekend venue by any means. The place was full, with groups of friends enjoying cocktails, couples of all ages out for a nice meal, even lone business men and families. Pretty good going for a Wednesday night, and with a match on. I was really surprised how busy it was and it’s good to know for future. We really like eating out midweek, and a lot of my work nights out are through the week too so it’s definitely somewhere to consider. Midweek fun breaks the working week up and it was the perfect setting for it, whether you want good food and one or two cocktails, or fancy taking the night further. It’s a firm contender for a girly visit this coming bank holiday!
Sushi is £4-5, depending which type you go for, which is pretty standard compared to other sushi places in town, and I think very reasonable for the quality.
Other dishes, including the meat skewers average between £4.95 – £6.95 depending on the meat, with the exception of the steak wagu beef skewers which are £14. This might sound a lot, but I honestly think you can’t go to Aveika and not have them.
Cocktails were pretty much all £7.95, with the exception of maybe one or two at £8.95. Again, very reasonable for the quality, taste and presentation. No watered down options here! Mocktails available too.
Disclaimer: We were invited to Aveika and received our meal and drinks complimentary, but as always my opinions are genuine and I can’t recommend the place enough.